Troubled Vedanta loses appeal for controversial refinery
|Vedanta's plan to expand its refinery at the foot of the Niyamgiri hills has now been blocked. |
© Lewis Davies/Survival
The Indian government has blocked FTSE 100 company Vedanta Resources’ plan to expand its highly controversial alumina refinery below the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, in the latest setback for the company.
India’s Environment Ministry has rejected Vedanta’s plan to expand the refinery six fold, and demanded immediate improvements to the existing plant.
Over a hundred families lost their homes when the refinery was built, and many others lost their land and livelihood.
One man told Survival, ‘The site where the refinery is now, the sources of water were in abundance. But now the bauxite dust is mixing into the wells and the streams. We’re in great trouble, nothing is right here.’
The refinery was part of a massive mining project that would have seen the sacred mountain of the Dongria Kondh tribe destroyed. After years of resistance from the tribe, and a huge international campaign from organizations including Survival and Amnesty, the Indian government axed the mine.
An Environmental Court has compounded this decision by revoking Vedanta’s ‘environmental clearance’ for the mine, after members of the Dongria Kondh tribe appealed against it. The judge declared that the original clearance had not considered the ‘human miseries which the project is likely to inflict.’
An expert committee tasked with investigating Vedanta’s activities in Orissa concluded that the company had worked on the expansion of the refinery without official permission, a ‘serious offence’.
Vedanta appealed to continue with its plan to expand the refinery regardless, but failed.
In a different Indian state, Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court ordered the closure of Vedanta’s notorious Tuticorin copper smelter, concluding that it was releasing pollution into the air and water with ‘devastating impact’. India’s Supreme Court is now examining the case.
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival said today, ‘Vedanta is learning the hard way that it cannot ride roughshod over tribal peoples forever. Other companies should learn from Vedanta’s mistakes: before investing time and money in a project, a company must gain the consent of local tribal communities.’
Related news articles
- India: Tribal leader dies in police custody – as tribe denounce harassment campaign June 28, 2017
- Indian authorities harass tribal leaders May 10, 2017
- India: Mining company targets Dongria’s sacred hills – AGAIN November 22, 2016
- Outrage as tour operators sell “human safaris” to Andaman Islands October 17, 2017
- “Pygmy” man pleads with Bronx Zoo organization after son is killed for conservation October 12, 2017
- Renowned indigenous leaders call for end to uncontacted ‘genocide’ October 9, 2017
- New report exposes widespread abuse funded by big conservation organizations September 25, 2017